The day was supposed to be hot. I thought the perfect antidote would be a cool mountain lake. So, Thursday morning I headed out early for what I thought would be a quick morning paddle on Lake Jocassee. As usual, I got caught up in the thrill of wanting to see what was just around the next bend, and wound up spending most of the day there. It met all my requirements for a cool lake, and then some.
In 1987 I was only a mere 70 miles from Stonehenge on the summer solstice. At the time I was young and too ignorant of both the date and geography to make an effort to get down there. Over the years I’ve kicked myself mentally for that lapse, although I probably couldn’t have gotten close with all of the crowds. Even so, I’ve tried to do something special for either the winter or summer solstice each year, whether it’s a kayaking or some other outing. This year I decided to watch the sun rise from Bald Rock.
Several weeks ago I spent some time searching for remnants of the Swamp Rabbit Railroad. This isn’t the famous one in Greenville that later became a popular trail. Instead, it’s a line constructed by the Ohio River and Charleston Railroad to serve textile communities in the Upstate. Despite ambitious plans, it was only completed from Blacksburg down through Cherokee Falls, then over to Gaffney. The railroad was short-lived, but in the early 1970s the section from Blacksburg to Cherokee Falls found new life as a scenic railroad for a bit. That, too failed, and now the railroad is abandoned.
I had explored as much as I could by land. Google Earth indicated the existence of a couple of supports for the old railroad trestle in the Broad River, but I couldn’t get close enough to see them. The trestle crossed Goat Island, which also figures prominently in the story of the Swamp Rabbit. This past week Alan Russell and I were able to get out on the water, and visit these locations.
It was hot. Extremely hot. My mind wandered to places where I might stay cool that didn’t require air conditioning. Standing under a waterfall seemed like it might be a good idea, but I couldn’t decide which would work best. Eventually, I decided a cave would do. There are no true caves in our area, but the next closest thing is Stumphouse Tunnel. I decided I’d take the cameras and head up that way. Along the way I would snag Ken in Clemson.
When I’m down in Florida I like to do at least one sunrise paddling trip. With the weather as iffy as it’s been, I’ve been wavering on when to paddle. I usually get up around 5:00 to walk the dog, and that usually gives me a good idea of conditions. One morning the skies were clear, but weird lightning kept me on-shore. Finally, one morning this week I decided to go for it, despite clouds and a bit of heat lightning.
Laura and I had to make an extended trip down to Florida to assist with her mother. Since her sister, Amy, lives right on the water, I try to get in as much paddling as possible. This time we had a few pesky tropical storms get in the way. Even so, I was able to set a personal best pace for a long paddle, and spend some time on a peaceful island.